Welcome to the book blitz for ANNIHILATION ARCHETYPES, the first book in the adult fantasy series, Annihilation Archetypes, by M.M. Gargiulo. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
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Title: ANNIHILATION ARCHETYPES
Series: Annihilation Archetypes Series #1
Author: M.M. Gargiulo
Publisher: Sommelier Stories Press
Release Date: January 13, 2023
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR
Born to siren humans to their watery graves, Nefertiti feels trapped in her life of violence. She leaves her home to venture on shore and falls in love with humans. Her duty brings her back to the sea, and fate tightens its hold on her from an unexpected source.
The next day Evgenís was eager to talk about my training. I was evasive, trying not to make eye contact with her. I thought the details of my night were too embarrassing to share with my proud sister, and I had no wish to relive them. I did not know if other huntresses took so long to learn how to walk, but Diana made it seem like they did not.
“Okay, you do not want to talk about it,” she sighed after a few minutes of this ensued. “Tell me this, did you learn something?”
I looked up into her beautiful blue eyes and found myself both comforted and sad. I wished I was better at walking, but Evgenís would still love me even if I was a terrible huntress.
“Yes, I absolutely learned lots of things yesterday.” I smiled at her, forcing myself to look excited and happy.
“Interesting,” she murmured under her breath. “I am glad,” she said at full volume.
“Okay, well do you have anything you would like to do today?” she asked me, her voice bright and cheerful.
“I think I am to meet with someone today.” Guilt washed over me again. Evgenís had given up living with me to come and live here, in isolation.
“Oh, no matter, I am sure I can find something to do while you are busy. Perhaps we can pick a night soon and go to our favorite wreck?” Her hopeful tone had me agreeing before I thought it over.
“I’d love to!” The wreck was a smallish fishing boat that had sunk off the coast of a tropical island. Many species of fish lived inside it, and coral grew off the outside of it. I was particularly in love with the spot because of the bright white sand. It seemed to be made of thousands and thousands of tiny corals, smashed and rounded by the tide and the wind. It was one of our favorite places to go. Evgenís always found it difficult to find fish while we were there. I had many happy memories of the two of us laughing and relaxing in the sand.
Evgenís smiled at my enthusiasm and kissed me on the cheek, excited at our prospective time together.
We ate some kelp together that apparently someone had dropped off in excessive amount while we slept. Things almost felt back to normal, despite our vastly different surroundings. I felt as though removing my tail somehow made me less of a mermaid than Evgenís.
When we were done eating, I bid Evgenís farewell and started to swim through the caverns and tunnels toward the surface to an area similar to the one where I met Diana. If my new teacher was anything like Diana, she would show up near the surface. I watched the moon move in the sky for hours, feeling my anxiety rise. Maybe I was supposed to go somewhere specific, but Diana forgot to mention it.
I was just starting to swim back and forth when I heard a voice.
“Nefertiti! How are you?” Santiago was swimming by, with two others.
“I am well, thank you.” My eyes drifted to the two others with him. One was a beautiful fair blonde female, the other a dark-complexioned male.
“Oh, this is Kane,” he said, gesturing toward the male merman. “And this is Danica.”
“Pleasure to meet the both of you.” I nodded my head in their direction. Kane bent at the waist in my direction.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Huntress.” His deep dark eyes met mine.
“Lovely to meet you as well,” Danica said.
“We were going to visit a reef down in the tropics,” Santiago said. “Would you care to join us?”
“Thank you, but I am supposed to be meeting someone,” I said. I took note of Kane’s and Santiago’s eyes that seemed to linger, and Danica’s, which seemed full of contempt.
“Next time, perhaps.” Kane’s eyes were still locked on me.
“I would love to.” I smiled at Kane, and could feel Santiago stir slightly next to him.
“Farewell then, Nefertiti.” Santiago nodded his head, and the three of them turned and began to swim away. I watched them go with a pang of loneliness and wondered if there would ever be a time where I did not feel so isolated from my own kind. My thoughts turned to Evgenís, who probably had an even harder time with it than I did. Guilt flashed through me at the idea of Evgenís leaving everyone she knew to raise me on her own.
I watched the stars turn in the sky and thought about their stark and naked beauty. Not unlike our people, but less dangerous. I imagined the answers to all of my questions were up there, winking at me in some code I could not understand. I wished I could speak their language of light. I wondered if the Gods were there, Evgenís had told me they lived up in the clouds.
When the sky began to lighten, I gave up my quest. Perhaps my next mentor had forgotten about the time. Maybe Diana gave her the wrong name. I started to swim toward the castle, taking one last look back at the sky. Suddenly a massive hammerhead shark emerged from the haze in the distance. I paused on my journey back home to watch the magnificent creature swim. His gait was the most elegant thing I had ever seen. The way he swam back and forth was reminiscent of how the sea seemed to part for the king himself. I loved the movement of his tail fin.
The shark seemed to notice me as soon as I noticed him. He adjusted his path slightly so he was headed straight toward me. I reached my hand forward, not in the slightest bit frightened of him. He was the hunter equivalent to myself. Even his skin was made of the tiniest teeth. I would probably grow to be more dangerous than he was. At the last second he turned his giant head, swimming by me to allow my outreached arm to pet the length of him as he swam by.
I felt my heart stir at the scars that decorated his side. He was a beautiful creature, full of an ancient sadness. I wondered how anyone could ever hurt such a creature. My hand ran the length of him, ten times my own size, and I felt the rough, textured body under my delicate soft hand.
He circled me once, clearly as eager as I was to remain closely connected, even if it was for a short while. When he came by me a second time, I grabbed onto his dorsal fin and let the length of me rest on top of his body. He seemed pleased by the attention and slowed his pace, allowing me to feel the gentle sway of the giant beast as he moved his tail back and forth. My own body swayed with his movements, and I felt as though we were one. I traced the deep gashes of scars on his back with my fingers, wondering what had caused them. I rode atop him for longer than I should have, the sun starting to really shine on the top of the sea.
He circled back after quite some time of me lying on top of him and swam with dignity back to where he had first found me. I turned my head to kiss the top of his back, my hair swirling around my face.
“Goodbye friend, I hope to see you again soon.” I watched him turn and be swallowed up by the dark sea. Maybe I would never get to play with the other merpeople, but at least I would have shark friends. I turned tail, and made my way back to the cave, exhausted from lack of sleep the previous night. Just before I approached the entrance to the first tunnel, I was startled by a stunning woman waiting by the entrance to the hall.
She had waist length red and silver hair (I gathered she was a huntress), a green tail fin, and a fair complexion. Her giant blue eyes were staring, unblinkingly, at me. I assumed she was older due to the streaks of silver in her bright red hair, but it was difficult to tell, there were no lines on her face.
“Nefertiti.” It was not a question, and I tried to figure out if I had met this woman before.
“Yes, that is I.” I smiled at her, hoping she was less crass than Diana. “I apologize, have we met?”
“We have not, although I have heard tell of you.”
“Well it is truly a pleasure to be acquainted with you.” I nodded my head in her direction.
“Yes, it is, but there is no need to be so formal with me.” She tossed back her hair, and it shimmered out behind her with such finesse I felt a ping of envy. I wondered if I would grow up to be so beautiful. “I am Arianna.”
“Arianna.” Her name sounded like a story I had long forgotten.
“Come, let us go for a swim.” She smiled at me, and I noticed her teeth were not sharpened, but similar to Evgenís’s. Maybe she wasn’t a huntress after all. She reached out her tiny soft hand, and I put mine into hers.
“I am here to teach you the ways of those on land,” Arianna stated. “Much has changed since I walked up there, but I have the best understanding of humankind. I am one of those who brought the best of the land back to the sea.”
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